Ranking the 10 Best Nicknames in NASCAR History

Paul Carreau@@PaulCarreauAnalyst IAugust 13, 2013

Ranking the 10 Best Nicknames in NASCAR History

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    It seems that in today's racing world everyone has a nickname.

    Kevin Harvick is "Happy," and Tony Stewart also goes by the name of "Smoke." 

    But some nicknames in the world of NASCAR have become just as recognizable as the person (or in one case, the track) to which they are given.

    Everyone knows that Richard Petty is "The King," and Dale Earnhardt will always be known as "The Intimidator," but where do those names rank among the rest of their peers?

    In the slides ahead, we are going to count down the 10 best nicknames that NASCAR has ever given of us. 

Honorable Mention: "Fireball"

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    Glenn Roberts was one of the pioneer drivers of what is today the Sprint Cup Series. He was a driver from 1950 until his tragic death in 1964.

    Roberts earned his nickname of "Fireball" not for anything to do with his racing career, but because he was a pitcher for the Zellwood Mud Hens, an American Legion baseball team.

    For his racing career, Roberts posted 33 wins, including the 1962 Daytona 500.

    Roberts' death in 1964 came, ironically enough, was a result of a fiery crash in that year's World 600 (today this race is the Coca-Cola 600) in Charlotte.

    Roberts was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013, and he will be enshrined as part of the class of 2014.

Honorable Mention: "Killer Bees"

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    The first 11 years of Matt Kenseth's Sprint Cup Series career saw him sponsored for the majority of races by DeWalt Tools.

    The firesuits worn by the pit crew were adorned with the bright yellow and black colors of DeWalt. Coupled with the lightning-fast pit stops the team was known for making, they collectively became known as the Killer Bees.

    With DeWalt as the primary sponsor, Kenseth and his team became very successful. They scored 18 wins in the top series and won the season championship in 2003.

    DeWalt's sponsorship of Kenseth ended after the 2009 season, but the nickname still stuck with the team.

10. "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville"

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    Bill Elliott is a 44-time Sprint Cup Series winner, and the 1988 series champion. He is also one of the most likable drivers ever, as shown by the fact that he received NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award 16 times.

    He also won the award in every season from 1991 through 2000.

    Elliott earned his nickname, "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" in 1985. During that season he won the pole for 11 races and scored 11 race wins.

    He finished the season second in the point standings, losing to Darrell Waltrip by 101 points.

9. "The Onion"

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    It's no mystery how Todd Bodine earned his nickname.

    His bald head is responsible for his labeling as "The Onion." A nickname like that may lead you to believe that Bodine has had no success in racing, but actually it is quite the contrary.

    While his zero wins in 241 career Sprint Cup Series starts may not impress anyone, Bodine has had far more favorable results in the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series.

    In 325 career starts in the Nationwide Series, Bodine has scored 15 victories, and on four occasions, has finished a season inside the top five in points, including a runner-up finish in 1997.

    His time spent racing trucks has been even more impressive.

    Bodine is a 22-time race winner in 220 starts, and is the 2006 and 2010 series champion. Between 2005 and 2010, "The Onion" never finished the season worse than fourth in the standings.

8. "The King"

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    There is no denying Richard Petty's place in NASCAR history as a driver, but as for the nickname, he doesn't rank as high.

    While "The King" is certainly an appropriate title bestowed upon Petty, it isn't as catchy or as clever as some other nicknames.

    Petty is the sport's all-time leader with 200 wins. He is also a seven-time series champion who dominated the sport from the early '60s through the early '80s.

    Even after exiting the driver's seat, Petty has remained involved in the sport. He currently fields the Fords driven by Aric Almirola and the series' most recent pole winner, Marcos Ambrose.

7. "Mr. Excitement"

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    Jimmy Spencer spent 18 years driving in the Sprint Cup Series. In 478 career starts he was only able to score two wins; but regardless of the lack of wins he will always be known as "Mr. Excitement."

    Spencer earned his nickname as a result of his aggressive and sometimes reckless driving style.

    This style of driving got him involved in a series of events for which he is probably most remembered.

    Over the course of the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Spencer and Kurt Busch had a handful of on-track altercations with one another.

    The final such incident came at Michigan in 2003. After the race was over, Busch stopped his car in front of Spencer's team hauler. The result saw Spencer punch Busch while the latter was still inside his car.

    The incident led to Spencer being suspended for the following week's race.

6. "The Cat in the Hat"

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    There is no NASCAR team owner more recognizable than Jack Roush.

    Since becoming a Sprint Cup Series owner in 1988 Roush has become a fixture at race tracks across the country.

    Nearly as famous as Roush himself is his trademark Panama hat. It is because of his traditional head wear that Roush is dubbed "The Cat in the Hat."

    While his nickname is all about fun, Roush is all business. As an owner, Roush was the catalyst for the careers of some of the sport's greats.

    Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards all made their names while driving in cars owned by Roush.

    In total, Roush has seen his cars score 132 wins and he has collected two owner's championships. His first championship came in 2003 with Kenseth, and he repeated the following season when Busch was victorious in the 2004 Chase for the Championship.


5. "Alabama Gang"

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    "The Alabama Gang" was the nickname given to a group of drivers that were based out of Hueytown, Alabama in the 1960s. The original group consisted of brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison as well as their friend, Red Farmer.

    The group grew over the course of the years. Jimmy Means joined in 1973. Davey Allison, son of Bobby, became a member of the group along with Neil Bonnett. Hut Stricklin became the final member of the famous "Alabama Gang."

    In total, this group recorded 132 wins and the 1983 series championship.


4. "The Silver Fox"

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    David Pearson is known as "The Silver Fox" because of the smart, calculated and analytical approach he took to racing. It was this approach that earned him 105 career wins.

    That puts him second on the all-time wins list, behind only Richard Petty.

    Pearson is also second all-time with 113 pole wins. Again, it is only Petty that he trails.

    Pearson is a three-time series champion, having accomplished the feat in 1966, 1968 and 1969. During his three championship seasons Pearson amassed 42 wins and 115 top-10 finishes in 141 starts.

    Pearson was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame class of 2011.

3. "The Lady in Black"

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    Darlington Raceway is such a tough track that it actually has two nicknames.

    The one-and-a-third-mile oval is commonly called "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame."

    At the conclusion of any race in Darlington it is easy to understand where the nickname "Lady in Black" comes from.

    As is customary before a race, the walls inside the race track are painted white.

    By the time the checkered flag waves, they have become predominantly black because of a high amount of tire contact during the race.

    Darlington is such a tough race track, that during the course of a race, it is not uncommon to see many drivers make contact with the Turn 4 wall.

    When this happens it is said that the driver has earned their "Darlington Stripe."

2. "Rainbow Warrior"

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    Jeff Gordon became a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver in 1993. During the early years of his career he piloted his No. 24 Chevrolet adorned with the bright rainbow colors of sponsor DuPont.

    To go along with the paint scheme of the car, Gordon’s firesuit, and the uniforms worn by his pit crew, were a matching rainbow color. This earned him the nickname of the “Rainbow Warrior”.

    Gordon has gone on to become one of the sport’s most successful drivers. He is an 87-time race winner, and a four-time series champion.

    While the paint scheme on Gordon’s car has changed over the years, it is his original scheme that will always remain his most memorable, and is the one that earned him a nickname that has continued to stick with him.

    Almost as fun as "Rainbow Warrior," Dale Earnhardt began dubbing Gordon as "Wonderboy" around the same time as his earlier moniker began to stick.

1. "The Intimidator"

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    The best nickname in NASCAR history belongs to one of its most famous drivers.

    "The Intimidator", as Dale Earnhardt is affectionately known, is not only one of NASCAR's most successful drivers, but arguably the most popular.

    Earnhardt is a seven-time series champion, and a 76-time race winner at the Sprint Cup level. His most famous win came during the 1998 Daytona 500 when he won the Great American Race for the first time in his career after failing in 19 previous attempts.

    Earnhardt earned his nickname in the 1987 Winston (now known as the Sprint All-Star Race). During the event he spun out Bill Elliott during the final segment, before going on to win the event for the first time in his career.